There are more serious themes, but also still loads of laughs In the 5th installment of the diaries of Adrian Mole. As the book opens, Adrian Mole is at his job as head chef at Hoi Polloi, a trendy restaurant in SoHo. We immediately meet his angry and aristocratic boss, Peter Savage, who owns the restaurant. He swears, smokes and drinks constantly, all the while complaining about his ex-wife and the Labour party.
In spite of its popularity, the restaurant isn't a “fine dining” establishment. It generally serves the kind of “home cooking” that most people are trying to avoid. Offal and bologna figure largely in the menu. So “head chef” isn't really a very prestigious position, and Adrian is living in a hovel upstairs from the restaurant.
Adrian is 30, and is separated from his wife Jo Jo. She has moved back to Nigeria and is living with another man. They also have a young son called William, who is fascinated by Teletubbies and Jeremy Clarkson.
Because of the popularity of the restaurant, Adrian is offered a chance at being a TV chef. In typical Adrian fashion, he over-thinks it and so he's too serious, and not successful at it. His co-host Dev Singh does quite well, however, and after Adrian has failed, Dev gets his own show.
Eventually, the restaurant is shut down and Adrian is forced to leave the room above it. He moves in with his parents, which is a bit of a humiliation for him, but he has no choice. He also develops an addiction to Opal Fruit candies, which leads to dental problems that force him to go cold turkey on the candies.
Adrian is then contracted to write an offal cookbook, which he fails to write to the irritation both of his agent and his publisher. Like the TV show, he tries to make this book about offal a “high-brow” experience. Eventually his mother writes the book for him, and gets a 50% cut of the profits. After all of Adrian's agonizing over it, his mother writes the thing in five days.
He sees an old flame from high school, Sharon Bott, and she tells him that her son Glenn is Adrian's son. Glenn is a sweet but foolish young man, and he is the kind of hoody wearing juvenile that Adrian doesn't want anything to do with. However, he is cognizant of his duties as a father, and while he isn't great at it, it is clear that he is a welcome relief from the distinct lack of parenting that has been provided by Sharon and her boyfriends. He quickly becomes very attached to Adrian, despite the fact that he's only just met him.
Adrian's obsession with Pandora Braithwaite is ongoing. She is about to stand for Parliament as the Labour candidate for Ashby-de-la-Zouche, where Adrian, his parents and Pandora's parents still live.
A geriatric friend of Adrian dies and, having no other friends or family, he leaves his house to Adrian. Adrian moves in bringing William and Glenn with him. This works for a while, but Adrian hires a tutor for Glenn who becomes infatuated with Adrian.
Eleanor Flood is obsessed with Adrian, but the feeling is not mutual. After a brief flirtation, Adrian moves on, but Eleanor does not. Pandora is in crisis one night and comes to visit him at his house. They wind up drunk and she stays the night, though nothing happens. Eleanor has been watching the house, however, so she sees Pandora leave. In a fit of rage, she burns the house down.
The fire occurs at the end of the book and after he and his sons escape the burning house, they join the crowd around the burning wreckage. While this is obviously not a positive note, Adrian is proud of himself for making sure that both his sons were gotten safely out of the fire.
Best part of story, including ending:
Adrian Mole has always been a source of comedy, but Adrian's difficulties being a parent gives this book a more serious feeling than the other books in the series. This book has more serious themes in it than Adrian's standard pretension.
Best scene in story:
There is a scene in hospital where William has had a coffee bean removed from his ear. When William wakes up from the anesthetic, he immediately calls out for Adrian's mother rather than Adrian. This naturally makes Adrian feel bad, and makes the reader feel bad for Adrian.
Opinion about the main character:
Adrian Mole has always been funny because his desire to be a “high-brow” person has always been ridiculous, but in this book, especially, he also shows a less pretentious side. His desire to be a father to both William and, after the boy convinces him, Glenn, shows that he also has inner warmth to redeem him.